Cisco adds new tools, services to support partners on DNA

Jason Gallo, director of collaboration and software partner business development at Cisco.

Jason Gallo, director of collaboration and software partner business development at Cisco.

Cisco’s Digital Network Architecture (DNA) strategy, which seeks to modernize networks with more built-in intelligence, automation, and security, is the biggest bet the company has made in its traditional core business in a very long time. Now, the networking giant is introducing new tools and services to help partners make DNA real for their customers in a push to drive adoption of the technology.

At the core of the new tools is the company’s Network Readiness Model and DNA Advisor tool, developed in coordination with research firm IDC, which attempts to answer a few key questions for customers as far as how their network stacks up against a modern network, against the customer’s peers, and against their competitors.

The model differentiates networks through five steps — starting with “best effort,” and progressing through “manual,” “semi-automated,” and “automated” to the ultimate DNA nirvana of “self-driving.” The level of network intelligence and software control is the biggest decider amongst stages here, and given that software-defined networking is still a relatively nascent technology, it’s not much of a surprise that many customers are just at the beginning of their journey — fully half of the 2,000 customers surveyed by IDC were in the “manual” stage, and only 14 per cent of those surveyed were in the top two, most-ideal, stages.

“That’s a big opportunity for partners,” said Jason Gallo, director of collaboration and software partner business development at Cisco. “It’s a chance for partners to play the role of the digital sherpa. This is a complex path for customers, and we’re providing our partner a model to start having that conversation about network modernization.”

DNA Advisor, at its most basic, is available as a free online self-assessment that lets customers determine where on the spectrum they sit currently. But partners will be more interested in the ability to offer a guided assessment that lets them build out a more custom case for where their customers are today, and how they go forward.

That guided assessment, of course, paves the way for a variety of services to help customers rise through the rankings as it were, both with partner-delivered professional services, as well as a series of partner-sold, Cisco-delivered DNA Advisor services that can fill in any areas where partners lack the requisite expertise or experience, or simply see a better opportunity to outsource.

“These are the kinds of services that makes them much closer to their customers over time. We’re handing our partners a great business development introductory tool that can begin a really robust conversation around network transformation,” Gallo said.

At the same time as the company is rolling out DNA Advisor, at its Cisco Live event in Berlin this week, the company is introducing a series of DNA enhancements in terms of technology, with special attention to the security and virtualization spaces, extending its TrustSec identity and segmentation technology to its wireless products, and introducing a network function virtualization solution for use at the branch office level.